Nearly 30 people have died on San Jose streets since January 1st
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Santa Clara County data shows that so far this year, 28 people have died on the streets of San Jose. That’s about one person every other day.
Last year, 250 homeless people died on San Jose and this year that number could grow even larger.
"Hit with cancer, recently went through a divorce, sold the house because it was kind of like a bad memory rather than a good memory," said Trever Vargas.
After facing some personal challenges he chose to live unhoused because of the high cost of rent in the Bay Area. He also says he doesn’t feel comfortable in a warming shelter.
"People steal your stuff or fighting. Sometimes it’s first come, first serve. People have precious items that they can’t leave behind. They only let you bring in one bag," Vargas said.
The Unhoused Response Group says most unhoused people also don’t have a cell phone to call warming centers to reserve a space or transportation to the two centers. Santa Clara County Coroner’s Office reports 28 people have died in San Jose since January 1st. While the data doesn’t show how each person died, URG says it’ll continue doing all it can to help people survive.
"So we’re here today to pass out food and drinks with electrolytes in them. We’re here to pass out hand warmers, coats, blankets and emergency blankets. Things to keep people as warm as possible during this time," said Shaunn Cartwright, Founder of URG.
The temperatures are expected to dip into the 30s each night until Wednesday of this week. San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan says while building more affordable housing is the long term goal, he’d like to make as much temporary housing available as possible over the next two years.
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"We’ve committed ourselves to building 1000 interim emergency housing sites. These are meant to be temporary, but they give people an individual room with a door that closes and even a private bathroom. We have as a city over the last couple of years built 300 of those units. I want to see us get to a thousand," Mahan said.
Mahan says they’ve already identified the funding and sites for another 700 units and the city is considering buying old hotels and other unused property to get people off the streets.